New Defense Secretary Supports Transgender Military Service

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By Zack Ford
February 23, 2015

Ash Carter was sworn in as the country’s new Defense Secretary just last week, and this weekend, he spoke out in favor of ending the military’s ban on transgender servicemembers.

At a town hall in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Carter received a question about transgender service from Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jesse Ehrenfeld, a member of the American Military Partner Association, an organization of LGBT military families. He responded that though he hasn’t studied the issue closely, he believes that if it doesn’t impact their ability to serve, gender identity should not be a disqualification for service.

“I come at this kind of question from a fundamental starting point, which is that we want to make our conditions and experience of service as attractive as possible to our best people in our country,” Carter explained. “And I’m very open-minded about — otherwise about what their personal lives and proclivities are, provided they can do what we need them to do for us. That’s the important criteria. Are they going to be excellent service members? And I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them.”

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